Sunday, July 31, 2011

When a Scientist Writes about Sports... and Gets It Wrong

ARTICLE:  “U.S. team’s triumphs a boost for women’s soccer:  World Cup showing is a win for all, two local players say.”  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [Milwaukee]  17 July 2011, B1-2.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE:  In journalism, check and recheck names and facts... three times.  My one correction of the summer occurred as a consequence of mis-naming US Women's soccer standout Abby Wambach "Amy".

I received a poignant and well-deserved comment from an anonymous poster on  "Lmao. This is hilarious. An article about women's soccer and how it's below the radar of men's sports, and you can't even get the star players name right. ABBY Wambach."  Touche, whoever you are.


1)  What is your age and hometown?

2)  What position do you play?  What skills do you need to be successful at that position?

3)  What sort of time commitment does your involvement with WPSL require?

4)  What motivates you to play with WPSL?

5)  Are any of your teammates your competitors on the college circuit?  How do you handle this?

6)  What is your future profession?  What aspects of soccer will help you be successful at your future endeavors?

7)  How long have you played soccer?  What has compelled you to stick with the game into your adulthood?

8)  One of the missions of WPSL is promoting the stature of female athlete as role models for youth.  How important is this mission to you?  What does soccer do for young girls?

9)  Your favorite moment so far in the women’s world cup tournament?

10) Who do you most admire on the US women’s team and why?

11) How does soccer contribute to your personal development?  What distinguishes female athletes from those who aren’t involved in athletics?

12) Goalkeeping is one of the US team’s strong suits.  What skills go into being a good goalkeeper?  Is goalkeeping more mental or physical?  What kind of personality type makes the best goalkeeper?

13) The US women’s team coach said the following:  “Technique is very important to the future of this sport and it’s something we need to work on in this country.  We need players who are more technical.”  What does she mean by this and would you describe the men’s US team as more technical?

14) The FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter said, “The football was exciting and very good, although you should never compare it to the men’s version, even though it is the same basic game, with 11 players against 11, one ball and one referee”.  Why not compare women’s soccer to men’s soccer?

15) It is always interesting to hear female players described.  The coach of the women’s team from Japan described her players this way:  “They are short little ladies, but the achieved a lot and I am very proud of my girls.”  I can’t think of an instance where men on a team where described in terms of their boyish qualities.  Do you think there is a certain rhetoric used to describe females athletes, that isn’t used to describe male athletes?

16) While the Japanese women were described as “short little ladies” by their coach, women on the US team have been described in the press as “fierce”, “tough”, “beasts”, and “fearless”.  Do these adjectives ever work against a woman?  When women in a certain profession are considered tougher than average, is there fallout to this?

17) It is said that the team from Japan are motivated to do well for their country because of recent events in Japan.  And while US women are predicted to win, the team from Japan is particularly driven by a sense of deep nationalism.   What obstacles do the US women face when they face off with Japan on Sunday?

18) There is the WNBA and talk of a WNHL.  Will there ever be a women’s major league soccer team?

19) What has the role of coaches been in your life?  Do you consider coaches mentors?  How important is mentorship in women’s sports?  Does this extend to other phases of a woman’s life?

20) What is the perception of women soccer players and how does this perception fundamentally differ from that of male soccer players?

21) What’s the dynamic of a woman’s soccer team and how do you think that dynamic fundamentally differs from the dynamic on a men’s team?

22) Do you think women’s sports are gaining more respect?  What legitimizes women’s athletics in your view?

23) How do men and women play soccer differently (mentioned Journal Sentinel Health and Science Blog about men faking more injuries)?

24) The number of nations seeking to qualify for the women’s world cup has tripled since the tournament began.  ESPN now features women’s world cup soccer.  What would you attribute this increased interest in women’s soccer?